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Return to Normalcy? Not Quite Yet

Last week was a wild one, and this one should be weird, too. You'll want to consider benching some typical fantasy stalwarts in Week 3

Trent Richardson should bolster the Colts' offense, but he's still a risky play this week.

Trent Richardson should bolster the Colts' offense, but he's still a risky play this week.

By Alessandro Miglio and Eric Edholm

Panicked yet? Or have you had the prescience to start Eddie Royal these past two weeks? If so, get back in the DeLorean and go buy some stock in Yahoo circa 1996.

Last week was a wild one. Between rookies going on parade and most contests staying close—apologies to the 49ers—there is plenty to talk about. But who should you be focusing on for Week 3? Here are some outside-the-box thoughts on sit/start situations heading into the third week of the season.

Sit: Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Dissenting Opinion

Wait, what? Sit Brady? Yeah, I get it: Brady can’t fully trust his guys yet. But I come back to a few things here when even entertaining the idea of sitting him. One, do you have someone better? If so, fine—that I can get behind. But assuming you don’t, consider that Brady and the Patriots are as good over the past decade at solving localized issues as any other team. In Brady’s past five full seasons, he has followed up his five worst performances (using QB rating as the metric for ease) with an average bounce-back game of 21-of-33 passing, 276 yards, more than two TDs and only one pick. Translation: Brady rarely has two bad games in a row. The 10 days off to prepare for Tampa Bay and gain a better rapport with his young receivers will help, too. Brady won’t let you down. Promise. —E.E.

You drafted Tom Brady with a high draft pick. He had a nice Week 1 followed by a poor Week 2. But he was playing the Jets' tough defense without some of his top targets, so you shouldn’t think twice about starting him this week, right?

It wasn’t crazy to sit Tom Brady last week against the Jets, and that would have panned out for you given the poor week he had. That offense has been hit hard with a rash of injuries, and Brady was working with an almost entirely different group of receivers than last season. It’s no wonder he completed fewer than half his passes and wound up outside the top 25 at his position in fantasy scoring. That usually only happens on bye weeks, folks.

Not much has changed for Brady heading into Week 3, though Rob Gronkowski could be making his triumphant return. Meanwhile, the Patriots face a surprisingly stingy Bucs defense that held Drew Brees to one passing touchdown last week. He probably won’t have that bad of a fantasy day again this season, but he could have trouble cracking the top 15 this week.

Start: Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals

Start Andy Dalton over Tom Brady? Hear us out.

With all the reasons you should sit Brady outlined above, here is why Dalton is a nice spot start this week: the Packers defense. Granted, Green Bay held Washington in check until garbage time, but last week marked two in a row where the Packers gave up a ton of fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. In fact, the Green Bay defense is worst in the league in fantasy-points-against at quarterback.

Dalton is no Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III—rust or not—but he does have a bevy of weapons. A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Tyler Eifert, Giovani Bernard and Jermaine Gresham will give that Packers back line some fits this week, and Dalton should have a nice fantasy day as a result.

Sit: Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts

We originally had Ahmad Bradshaw in this section, and much of what we said about him applies to newly minted Colt, Trent Richardson.

The second-year back could see an uptick in production with the Colts, given he will be playing in a better offense that will force opposing defenses to respect the pass more. Even with Bradshaw there to take away playing time—something Richardson didn’t have to worry about in Cleveland—Richardson should be fine, if not better from a fantasy standpoint.

That being said, this week is a risky proposition. Richardson is heading into a hornets nest on Sunday against the 49ers, who probably didn’t take Marshawn Lynch’s annihilation of their defense lying down in practice.

Start: Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions

Who had Week 2 in the Reggie Bush Injury Pool? Nobody wants a player to get injured, but Bush has simply never been healthy for a full season. His latest injury appears to be relatively minor—he is listed as questionable this week, but he’ll probably go—but he has had a history of ineffectiveness when playing hurt.

Enter Joique Bell, who is playing almost as well as Bush. Bell should see an increase in playing time, even if Bush starts. And this week he goes up against a Washington defense that has secretly been replaced with a Walmart brand. That unit is worst in total defense and has given up the second-most points in the league so far. It gave up 100-plus rushing yards to James Starks last week, the first time Green Bay has had a 100-yard rusher since Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana.

Sit: Cecil Shorts, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

We might witness history this weekend—the Seahawks might actually force the Jaguars into negative points. This is bad news for Cecil Shorts, who will likely be wearing Richard Sherman throughout the day.

The only hope for Shorts from a fantasy perspective is if the Seahawks get out to a huge lead and coast during the second half. That is, after all, how Shorts nabbed whatever fantasy points he could against the Raiders. But if the Jaguars couldn’t even muster 10 points against Oakland, what hope do they have of scoring against Seattle, even if garbage time starts early?

Benoit Says: "Cecil Shorts and the rest of the Jaguars receivers have struggled to get open against man coverage."

Imagine how much he will struggle against Sherman & Co., who specialize in that type of physical coverage.

Start: Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans

Sure, Kenny Britt appears to be dousing bridges with kerosene as we speak, but he’s not done in Tennessee just yet. Well, at least not unless you believe unsubstantiated Twitter rumors about Britt being “kicked off” the team.

Britt was targeted nine times last week, but he was only able to haul in four passes for 28 yards while teammate Kendall Wright stole the show. That is a healthy target count for Britt, however, who faces a much softer Chargers defense this week—that defense is just behind Washington’s in fantasy points-against at quarterback, and it is eighth-worst against receivers. He isn’t the same kind of receiver as DeSean Jackson, but Britt possesses some serious talent of his own.

Sit: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Guess who is going to be playing mad this weekend?

The 49ers were flat embarrassed on the road last week. They'll be out for blood at home on Sunday, and Andrew Luck will be in those crosshairs.

Luck was held to 321 yards and just one touchdown to go with an interception against the Dolphins last week, though he did managed to escape for 38 yards rushing. While Miami does have a good defense, San Francisco’s is better. There will be blood in Candlestick. (Figuratively speaking, of course.)

Start: Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

Lost in the hullabaloo of Week 2 was the fact Alex Smith severely outplayed his San Francisco successor, Colin Kaepernick. This isn’t going to become a trend, but Smith had a rather nice fantasy day.

He gets to play against Philadelphia, whose defense is only marginally better than Washington’s. The Eagles have the second-worst pass defense in the league through the first two weeks, and this figures to be a high-scoring affair. Kansas City’s defense has looked great through the first two weeks, but call us skeptical that the Chiefs will be able to stop that offense.

Benoit Says: "Alex Smith is a good sleeper because Philadelphia's secondary has been porous in Cover-3 concepts, which is a common zone that's played behind an eight-man box. With Jamaal Charles posing a threat on the ground, Eagles will likely use plenty of Cover-3, eight-man boxes Thursday."

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Week 3 Survivor Draft

Last Week

Edholm—151.1, Miglio—117.3


Edholm, 2-0


Team Miglio

I’m going to start calling my team the Hard Luck Hobos. The first week, it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Last week? Injuries short-circuited things.

Granted, it was a gamble to take Sudfeld, who was questionable for the Thursday night affair. But Eddie Lacy knocked out after his first run? That was brutal. And Larry Fitzgerald’s hamstring went HAM on Sunday, knocking him out of the game in the second half.

No matter. This week, Team Miglio picks itself up and dusts itself off. No horsing around.

That’s why I snagged the Seattle defense, which is liable to score 30 fantasy points on its own. Of course, few things are exactly as we expect them—maybe the Jaguars show signs of life and actually play a halfway decent game. But don’t bet on it.

Elsewhere, I went with all-but-sure things around this week’s roster. No iffy players save, perhaps, Dez Bryant, who had some back problems last weekend. And can you tell that I like the 49ers to rebound in a big way? Now that we have a couple of weeks out of the way, I strategized by holding off on drafting Jamaal Charles and Tony Gonzalez, both of whom Team Edholm has already utilized.

I need a win.

Team Edholm

I’m 2-0, but I feel like I still don’t know what the holy heck I am doing. This whole idea—picking a new team each week and using each player only once per season—is a pretty maddening and exciting amalgam of fantasy football.

I’ll give you an example. I had first pick this week. I took Calvin Johnson (and later doubled up with Matthew Stafford). My thinking: Johnson is going to shred the Redskins, who can’t seem to stop anyone, and he looked like the best play on the board relative to his position. But using that last approach, I easily could have justified making the Seahawks’ defense the first overall pick this week. No defense this week looks even close to as good on the board as they do. Alex, though, smartly snagged them later.